If polls are to believed, the Liberals may be eating into soft Conservative vote in today’s Canadian election.
The conventional wisdom always was that the Tories could be defeated only by coordination or strategic voting between Liberals and NDP. Yet the NDP vote has been holding quite steady recently, while Liberals have taken the lead.
I never believed the coordination expectation (except in its weaker forms, which we may have seen happening in late Sept as the NDP slowly slid in polls). It seems we may have to score one for the old median-voter theorem, if in fact soft Tory voters are putting the Liberals within striking position of a parliamentary majority.
If so, chalk one up to Downs, and one against Duverger. By Downsian expectations, the winner of a two-party contest is the party that is closest to the median, and clearly it has come down to a contest between the incumbent Conservatives and the challenging Liberals. On the other hand, there is no sign of a significant collapse of the third party, the NDP. So Duverger’s Law, which says plurality systems tend to produce two-party systems, will take yet another hit from yet another Canadian election. There is just that stubborn third-party vote–and in much of Quebec, it is more like a four-party system.
This was the old norm in Canada–governing competition between the Conservative and Liberals, but with a persistent third party. The 2011 election, which put the NDP in second place, looks like an aberration. Yet today’s election will probably be the best ever by the NDP, aside from 2011. That is the critical sense in which it remains very un-Duvergerian, even if it is accurate to say that it is ending up rather Downsian.